Archive for May, 2011

Creating formatted AutoCorrect entries in Outlook 2010

The other day, a lawyer asked me how to set up AutoCorrect entries in Outlook 2010. Actually, he didn’t remember the name of the feature; he simply said that he wanted to be able to type an abbreviation for a phrase or paragraph he uses frequently when he writes mail messages and have the abbreviation expand automatically when he presses the spacebar.

To create an AutoCorrect entry — whether plain text or with formatting (you can apply attributes such as bolding, italics, underlining, a font color other than black, hard returns, and so forth) — simply launch a new mail message (File tab, New E-mail) and type / format the text. When it looks exactly the way you want, select (highlight) the text, and then, from within the message, click the File tab, Options. If the Mail category at the left side of the Options screen isn’t already highlighted, click “Mail” to see the Mail options. Next, click the “Spelling and AutoCorrectbutton at the right side of the screen. That will open the Editor Options, with the Proofing category highlighted.

Click “AutoCorrect Options…” to open the AutoCorrect dialog, with the main AutoCorrect tab at the forefront. About halfway down, you’ll see “Replace text as you type,” followed by existing (built-in) AutoCorrect entries and an area where you can add new ones. The text you typed and formatted should appear automatically in the “Withbox. If the “Formatted text” option isn’t already active, click the radio button to choose that option.

Enter the abbreviation you want to use in the “Replacebox. CAUTION: It’s best not to use a whole word or abbreviation that you use often in normal correspondence; if you do, you might be in for a rude surprise when you type that word or abbreviation, press the spacebar, and end up with a phrase or paragraph you didn’t intend to insert into your mail message!

Once everything is set up to your liking, click “OKthree times (once to save your settings within AutoCorrect, again to save your settings in the Editor Options, and finally to save your settings in the Outlook Options). At this point, you can discard the e-mail message in which you created the AutoCorrect entry or, if you like, send it to someone.

It’s always a good idea to test to make sure your new AutoCorrect entry is working as expected. To do so, open another new e-mail message, type your abbreviation, and press the spacebar. The abbreviation should expand into the text, along with any formatting you applied.

Note that unformatted AutoCorrect entries for Outlook 2010 are stored in an .acl file that is shared by all Office 2010 programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). However, formatted AutoCorrect entries for Outlook 2010 are stored in each user’s NormalEmail.dotm template, just as formatted AutoCorrect entries for Word 2010 are stored in each user’s Normal.dotm template. As a result, any formatted AutoCorrect entries you create in Outlook or in Word will not be shared between programs.

Incidentally, although you can use AutoCorrect to create a signature for your outgoing mail messages, it probably makes more sense to use the “Signatures” option. You can find that option by clicking the File tab, Options, Mail, then clicking the “Signaturesbutton. When the Signatures and Stationery dialog appears, click “New,” type a short, easily identifiable name for the signature (your own name, your company name, or whatever is appropriate), click “OK,”and navigate to the Edit Signature area.

There are numerous options for creating your signature. You can select the font face and size, the font color, bolding, italics, and/or underlining, and you can set the justification (left, right, or center). In addition, you can insert a virtual business card — if you have one for yourself set up in your Outlook contacts — and/or insert an image or a link. You can choose from several versatile link options, including a link to an existing file or web page, to an e-mail address, or to a place in the current document (presumably meaning the e-mail message itself). You even have the ability to create a brand-new document on the fly and link your signature to the new document.

After creating your signature (and before saving it), take a moment to review the area at the top right of the Signatures and Stationery dialog box. First, make sure that the correct e-mail account appears; if not, choose the appropriate account from the drop-down. Equally important, if the “New messagesdrop-down shows “(none)” — which is the default setting — click to choose the name of the signature you just added. Otherwise, your signature won’t appear when you create a new message!

If you like, you can do the same with respect to the “Replies / forwardsdrop-down, which will add your signature when you reply to or forward a message. (I prefer to add my signature only to new messages, but that’s an individual choice.)

When you’ve finished setting up your signature, click “OKtwice (once to save your settings in the Signatures and Stationery dialog and a second time to save your settings in the Outlook Options). Test by creating a new mail message. If anything isn’t to your liking, you can edit the signature by reopening the Signatures and Stationery dialog. Just remember to save your changes by clicking “OK” twice.

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May 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

Display envelope icon when new mail arrives (Outlook 2010 and Windows 7)

Many of the legal secretaries at the Los Angeles law firm where I am currently providing floor support during an upgrade to Office 2010 and Windows 7 have asked how to restore the envelope icon they are accustomed to seeing in the Systray portion of the Taskbar when a new mail message arrives. The icon no longer displays. They still receive a pop-up notification about new mail, but it fades out quickly, and if they happen to be away from their desks, on the phone, or otherwise occupied when a message comes in, they can miss the brief notification.

There’s actually a relatively easy fix for the problem. By default, Windows 7 hides certain icons, including the envelope icon that announces new mail. However, you can change this setting by clicking the “Show hidden iconsbutton — a small, upward-pointing triangle toward the right side of the Taskbar — and clicking “Customize…

When you do so, you’ll see a list of several Notification Area Icons, including the familiar envelope icon labeled “Microsoft Outlook” (with a description in gray text below that says something like, “You have new unread e-mail messages…”). Note the drop-down to the right of the icon. By default, it is configured to show only notifications (desktop alerts). Click to change the default setting to “Show icon and notifications,” and click “OK” to save your new setting.[1]

If the envelope icon still doesn’t display when you receive a new message, check to see how Outlook is configured. From within the program, click the File tab, Options, Mail category, scroll down to the Desktop Alerts section, and make sure that “Show an envelope icon in the taskbar” is enabled (checked). (It should be enabled by default, but it’s worth reviewing to make certain.) Click “OK” to save your settings.[2]

Once you have enabled the icon as well as the notifications, the envelope icon should appear in the Systray portion of the Taskbar whenever a new mail message arrives.[3]
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[1] An alternate way to get to this screen is via the Control Panel. Click the Start button, Control Panel, and then click Notification Area Icons.

[2] Note, incidentally, that it is from this same section of the Outlook Options that you can turn desktop alerts on or off and configure the length of the alerts (up to 30 seconds) as well as their transparency / opacity.

[3] If you still are not seeing the envelope icon when you receive new mail, it’s probably because you are using a protocol known as IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) to log onto Outlook. Microsoft recently issued a “hotfix” patch that addresses this issue, among others. (“When you use an IMAP account to log on to Outlook 2010, the envelope icon does not show in the notification area. Additionally, no sound is played when you receive an email message.”) For more information and a link to the downloadable patch, see this page on Microsoft’s Support site: “Description of the Outlook 2010 hotfix package”. The link to the patch is toward the top of the page.

CAUTION: Be sure to discuss the situation with your IT department (if any) before downloading or attempting to install or run this patch or any other hotfix package that you locate on the Internet.

May 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Catching up

Midway through an eight-week training and floor-support project — an Office 2010 and Windows 7 rollout — at a large law firm in downtown Los Angeles, I finally have a little time to write some new posts. I’ll add two or three tiplets inspired by questions that have been cropping up frequently during the rollout, as well as a longer article explaining how the “Restrict Editing” feature works in Word 2010.

Even though the blog’s primary focus is on Word and WordPerfect, regular readers know that I offer pointers about other technical topics (and other applications) every once in a while. I thought the tiplets I’ll be providing this weekend — which relate to Outlook 2010 — would be useful for many people who work with the Office suite of programs in general. And I’ll probably continue to write about issues that arise during the training gig, especially the ones that have fairly simple solutions.

Thankfully, the long weekend affords me a modicum of extra time to try to catch up with at least some of the tasks I’ve neglected over the past few weeks. Not sure when I’ll have another chance to post between now and the end of the rollout (in late June), but I’ll keep trying.

Thanks, as always, for dropping by (and for being patient)!

May 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm


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